Check back here to find out about upcoming candidate forums, town halls, and debates. When you attend the event, ask the candidates one of the questions below.
Jump to: Family Economic Security | Budgeting for Iowa’s Priorities | Early Education and Child Care | Afterschool and Summer Learning | Health and Well-Being | Safety and Security | Human Trafficking
Background: Almost 15% of Iowa children live in poverty, and many more live in households struggling to make ends meet. Particularly when children are very young, their needs are greatest and their families are at the lowest levels of their earnings. The growing inequality of income and wealth in America is developing into disparity of opportunity for our kids, where higher income households bring more opportunities for greater success. Persistent poverty is one of the strongest predictors of future health, education and social well‐being. Strong work support programs and policies focused on family economic security lower rates of children living in poverty and enable families to meet both their caregiving and bread winning roles.
What actions will you take to reduce multigenerational poverty and ensure that all children have access to equal opportunities to achieve success?
What is your plan to tackle tax policy issues to ensure a stable and adequate state general fund to pay for Iowa priorities, like health and education?
Background: Working parents depend on accessible child care to participate in the workforce and provide income for their families. Yet 24% of Iowans live in a child care desert, where there are too few or no providers for the number of children in their area. While the $9,967 average cost of center-based care for infants is out of reach for many families, eligibility to receive child care assistance from the state is the lowest in the nation at 145% of poverty. Child care providers are also struggling to make ends meet, with an average annual income of $20,410. Child care assistance benefits are not reimbursed by the state at the current market rate, forcing providers to choose between taking a loss or turning away certain families. Child care also serves as a vital opportunity for early learning, as research on brain development points to the birth-to-5 years as critical to success in the school years and adulthood.
How will you ensure child care is local, affordable, and high-quality; and is sustainable for providers?
Background: Before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs support working families by filling the gap between work and school schedules, providing additional learning opportunities for youth beyond the classroom, and keeping kids safe. 75% of Iowa parents support public funding for afterschool, and yet the need for programs far exceeds the funding available. Among Iowa’s K-12 students, 145,383 are waiting for an available program, and 114,865 are alone and unsupervised after school. In addition to the existing funding shortage, the current proposal to eliminate federal funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers – the only federally funded afterschool programs – would further reduce the number of Iowa children that can be served.
How would you ensure that all children and youth have access to high-quality before- and afterschool and summer programming?
Background: Access to well-child visits to determine ongoing health and mental health needs are critical to a child’s development. 1 in 5 Iowa children suffer from a mental health condition in their childhood or adolescence, yet only about 1.5% of these youth accesses treatment. Children with a mental health diagnosis are at-risk for dropping out of school, entering into the juvenile justice system, becoming homeless, and inflicting self-harm. The lack of a statewide children’s mental health system means existing services are uncoordinated, difficult to navigate, and are not uniformly available across the state. Additionally, considering that children comprise half of Iowa’s Medicaid population, the concerns surrounding our managed care system has immediate impacts on the health of our kids.
What actions will you take to ensure access to services to address the developmental, emotional, and mental health needs of infants, children and young adults?
Background: In 2015, 8,298 Iowa children were found by the state to be victims of abuse, and 5,918 children were in foster care. Child welfare services intend to prevent or respond to abuse and neglect and provide for the safety, permanence and well-being of children removed from homes. Yet too many children enter and remain in foster care and do not have permanency in their lives. Each year, children age out of foster care with major barriers to success, and current investments put much greater emphasis on placement than prevention. Additionally, the recent deaths of Iowa youth adopted from the foster care system and the investigations that followed has raised concerns about the capacity of our child protective services.
What actions will you take to reduce the number of children who are subject to abuse and neglect, and how will you ensure that youth aging out of the foster care system have a promising future
Background: In 2017, 40% of the victims in reported human trafficking cases in Iowa involved minors. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, factors that make children particularly vulnerable to trafficking include a history of abuse, patterns of running away, and an unstable home life or involvement in the child welfare system. Perpetrators often target children, believing their age makes them easier to manipulate and control, and recruit them in schools, parks and other public places, foster care or group homes, and through social media. Yet human trafficking is still a largely hidden problem, and requires a heightened awareness to understand the warning signs. Human trafficking can happen anywhere at any time and look different each time.
How will you address the issue of human trafficking and ensure the broad-based training needed to educate all Iowans that serve, teach, protect, respond or utilize our natural resources?